By Jade Anim
As time changes, so do the needs and wants of people. The beverage industry is among those that are particularly affected by the evolving desires of consumers. After all, variation is important if you don’t want consumers to get sick of your product at some point.
To some, mainstream beverage products that are mass-produced and offer the same generic taste just don’t cut it anymore, which is why the emergence of craft alcoholic beverages has definitely been a godsend to everyone.
A craft beverage can be best described as a drink that is handmade and creatively produced in small batches. Craft alcoholic beverages typically feature quality ingredients that are organic or locally sourced. This type of beverage has a certain appeal to consumers primarily because of how different it tastes and feels compared to other mainstream drink products.
The unique qualities of a craft alcoholic beverage can be attributed to the innovation and passion of the brewers or producers and the exceptional quality of ingredients that they use. But are craft alcoholic beverages really a thing? The answer is yes. So far, beer, wine, cider, and cocktails are among the alcoholic beverages that have their own crafty versions. The craft beer industry itself is already well-established and has a decent amount of following behind it. However, the craft wine, cider, and cocktail industries are currently in their infant stages and have yet to generate some significant buzz in the world, but there is no doubt that they’ll soon achieve the level of success the craft beer industry has managed to attain.
The craft beer industry is far ahead of its alcoholic beverage contemporaries because it has been around since the 1970s, which is the decade when the craft beer movement picked up steam and surprised the country with a new kind of beer. In this decade, regional breweries and pubs all over the United States started to consolidate and close due to a series of massive acquisitions and mergers conducted by huge conglomerates. As the American brewing landscape was starting to shrink in terms of size and variety, a couple of innovative homebrewers realized that the only way they could keep on experiencing different beer flavors, tastes, and traditions was to craft the beer themselves. Thus, the craft brewing industry was born.
It was in the 1980s when the practice of crafting your own style of beer became more widespread across the country. The brewing techniques that homebrewers used started to improve as time went by, which resulted in better quality craft brews. Microbreweries and brewpubs also started to pop up in huge numbers, and their common goal was to introduce exceptional beers of diverse qualities to their local communities.
The 1980s period was kind of a struggle for the microbreweries, brewpubs, and independent homebrewers due to the reliance of consumers on more established and aggressively marketed beer products from larger companies. However, it was definitely the beginning of the highly successful movement that we now know today.
The first half of the 1990s was the exact period when the craft brewing trend gained momentum and never looked back. The number of craft brewers in the country skyrocketed to 537 in 1994, up from only 8 in 1980. Without the passion and innovation of the pioneer craft brewers back in the 1980s, the American brewing landscape today would definitely look a lot more different and bland, and we’d be stuck with mass-produced brews that offer little or no variation in terms of flavor, aroma, and mouthfeel.
Today, there are more than 6,000 microbreweries all across the United States, and the success and rapid growth of these craft beer breweries inspired the alcoholic beverage producers from other industries to create their own versions of craft drinks. Everyone from vineyard growers to cider producers were among those who were enthralled by the entire concept of craft brewing, so craft ciders and wines were born as a result.
There are many reasons why consumers tend to purchase mainstream alcoholic beverages more. Among those reasons are comfort, marketing, and availability. The average consumer prefers to keep on buying products they are more familiar and comfortable with, and this applies to all industries. Marketing is also a huge factor since everything from billboard advertisements to TV commercials can influence the mind of a consumer to buy a particular product. Lastly, mainstream beverages are more accessible in supermarkets and small stores because of their popularity.
The trend of buying mainstream alcoholic beverages is starting to die down a little bit because of the rapid rise of craft alcoholic beverages. More consumers are starting to become aware of the superiority of craft drink products over mainstream beverages, especially when it comes to taste and quality. Apart from that, craft beverage producers pay more attention to detail and spend more time on each batch they create, which means that craft alcoholic drinks are more likely to taste better than the traditional mainstream brews. Lastly, since there are over 6,000 microbreweries in the country, each with a different brewing technique and usage of ingredients, it means that the variation of qualities and tastes is something that you should expect from a craft alcoholic beverage, whether it’s beer, wine, or cider.
As the popularity of craft alcoholic drinks grows, so does the demand for it. Good thing though that American beverage wholesalers, such as Imperial India, are helping craft drink producers and their specialty products reach more consumers by wholesaling, distributing, and supplying the goods to fellow beverage traders, commercial businesses, and even homeowners. Because of how the relationship between craft drink producers and beverage wholesaling businesses work, you can say that they both benefit from each other equally.
As of this writing, the craft alcoholic beverage industry as a whole is strong and healthy. I’m not trying to take away anything from mainstream drink products, because they definitely are amazing in their own right, but one cannot simply deny the edge that craft beverages have over them.